Feral straining breathing

swagman

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Hi everyone,

I am new to this site and forum. Hoping to find some information or advice. There is a feral living in my backyard. Female that I think is about 3 years old.
A year ago I was able to TNR her and she stayed away for 3 months and now every day comes up to my back deck to eat and sleeps on a perch I made for her outside my window.
We interact through the window, if I touch my nose to glass she puts hers against mine on other side. And she lays down and exposes belly and sleeps there nearly all night every day. However, if I try to approach outside she runs. I cannot get within 15 feet. She is exceptionally afraid and that’s OK, I'm just describing the relationship.

Here is my question. Her breathing seems very labored. Her chest expands and contracts very awkwardly and at a fast pace all the time. It seems very labored. Even when sleeping. Asking for any information or advice on what could or should be done about this.
I've tried trapping her again but she is not having it and wont go anywhere near a trap.
I have a video of her breathing but not sure if it is too big to post. Will consider that.

Thanks in advance.
swagman
 
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swagman

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I was able to post a short video at dropbox.
output.wmv
thanks!
 

carebearbaby1

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She may have been injured and have what's called a diaphragmatic hernia ( ruptured diaphragm). If you can catch her she needs to see a vet. PM me the video if you can.
 

moxiewild

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Hi everyone,

I am new to this site and forum. Hoping to find some information or advice. There is a feral living in my backyard. Female that I think is about 3 years old.
A year ago I was able to TNR her and she stayed away for 3 months and now every day comes up to my back deck to eat and sleeps on a perch I made for her outside my window.
We interact through the window, if I touch my nose to glass she puts hers against mine on other side. And she lays down and exposes belly and sleeps there nearly all night every day. However, if I try to approach outside she runs. I cannot get within 15 feet. She is exceptionally afraid and that’s OK, I'm just describing the relationship.

Here is my question. Her breathing seems very labored. Her chest expands and contracts very awkwardly and at a fast pace all the time. It seems very labored. Even when sleeping. Asking for any information or advice on what could or should be done about this.
I've tried trapping her again but she is not having it and wont go anywhere near a trap.
I have a video of her breathing but not sure if it is too big to post. Will consider that.

Thanks in advance.
swagman
This is an international site, so I have to check - what season is it where you’re at?

Definitely post the video. You can upload it to YouTube and post the link here if it’s too long to do it directly through the site.

Did you try trapping her once the labored breathing started, or did you try a while ago?

What all have you tried with trapping? Covering and uncovering the trap, withholding food, what kind of bait, etc

When did the labored breathing start? Is she still acting normal otherwise? For example, will she still interact with you through the window? Is she eating and drinking? Maintaining her normal habits?

Hang in there!
 
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swagman

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Wow! Thanks everyone for the replies, will try to reply to all you kind folks in one message!
First, I was able to post video to dropbox. You don’t need to log in to see it, just ignore the login part.

It is fall where we are, just starting to get cooler. In the 50's F.
My wife says she has always breathed like this - even before trapping her last year but I never really noticed until recently.

I have tried many disguises and treats/foods to get her in the trap. She basically wont even come out of hiding if it's around.
I have tried withholding food but not for more than one night, was thinking the next night she would be hungry enough but no.

She doesn't show any signs of distress other than her chest moving. Interacts very affectionately and playful through the glass only.
No panting or drooling. Her eyes look very healthy.

She comes up to the deck around dusk every night and as long as we don’t approach she stays there until 9 in the morning or so.
She spends her days somewhere in the woods behind my house.

thanks,
swagman
 

moxiewild

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Did you mean to post a link to Dropbox?

To be honest (and until I see the video), there are times where I suddenly think my cats are breathing heavier when they aren’t. So your wife may be right.

Better safe than sorry though, of course.

Do you have a regular vet that you perhaps use for pets? If so, I would call the clinic and ask if you can send them the video to see if they think it’s abnormal and if you should bring her in.

If the vet thinks that you should, find out exactly how urgent they guess it might be. Be sure to mention she is acting normal otherwise.

Do you have a garage, shed, enclosed porch, etc you could lure her into?

Do you have a pet carrier and/or small-medium wire dog crate (or if not, are you willing to buy one?)?
 
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swagman

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I just saw that my drop box link is awaiting the moderator's approval. The site won't allow me to upload a video file but I will try as a zip file.
 

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fionasmom

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Okay, it is heavier than my cats breathe but you aren't seeing other signs of distress. My go to trapping bait is KFC or if you are not hear a location, any frozen or deli supermarket greasy chicken with the skin on.
 

moxiewild

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was able to post to YouTube!
thanks!
Yeah, that lurching should be checked out, I think.

But like I said, try to send it to a vet to see what they say.

As above, warm, fried chicken is a good option. Mackerel too if you haven’t already.

But if she won’t even come out when a trap is around, it’s best to try using things other than a trap, like a pet carrier or wire dog crate.
 
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swagman

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Thanks everyone. Going to try some other tactics and KFC for to convince her into a crate or the trap and try getting her to vet.
Appreciate your ideas and thoughtfulness!
Its hard to believe I cant get her to come to me. Here is a short video of how she behaves when I am on the other side of the window. But she is a different cat when I go outside.
 

moxiewild

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Omg, that is sooooo cute!

I have to agree, I’m actually extremely surprised she won’t allow you closer to her given that behavior in the video. What happens if you just sit quietly outside with some food?

So, for the crate, you’re going to have to tie a string on the door and sit at a distance and wait for her to go in.

Hopefully she is tolerant of that, but if not, try to hide behind a bush or trashcan or something.

I have hid under tarps and ghillie blankets (I even have a cheap ghillie suit now! 😂), behind artificial plants from indoors, etc. and I just try to spray what I’m wearing with Feliway to help conceal my scent.

Just get creative.

Sometimes using their normal food can help. Typical bait sometimes raises suspicion in the clever ones!

Otherwise, warm and stinky is what you want to aim for in most cases, although things like fortiflora and bonito flakes can also help boost scent.

Oh! And you can also try a laser pointer or catnip if she won’t go for food.
 
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swagman

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IKR? You would think she would be all over me. Crazy! I have gone out there with her dinner, which she is usually waiting for sat quietly away from the food on far end of the deck and she wont come up. I've only waited about 30 minutes at the longest. I've got some god ideas from here that I will try. Even though it doesn't seem to be bothering her much I'd like to have her checked out. That ghillie suit idea cracks me up! You are a feral black ops commando! I've tried mackeral. Her favorite is roast chicken with gravy. We'll see what happens!
 

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I just now saw - and read through - your thread. Do you have other cats inside? When you go outside, could she be smelling them on you? Even if not, maybe there is a scent you carry on your body (soaps, lotions, colognes, household cleaners, or smells from work) that she is leery of? Most cats have a terrific sense of smell, but maybe what ever she smells is muted enough through the glass that it doesn't bother her.

The other possibility is that she has someone else in the area who approaches her because they have been trying to trap her as well. Also, do you think she would she react the same way to your wife?

Not really helping your trapping situation, but maybe if it is a smell thing, you could figure out some ways to mask your scent enough to get her to come to you when you are outside. If you use any sort of blankets/towels for her to lay on - and you change them out from time to time - maybe hang on to one or two of them and 'wear' them on your body before washing them.
 
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swagman

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Hi there! Thanks for the ideas!
We have a cat and a dog inside and all the things you say are a possibility. I dont think its a smell because when I go out there with her food, she dashes away down the steps where she can watch me until I leave. She literally stays there until she hears the door close then runs back up. If she stays down the steps too long I tap on the glass and when she hears that she knows I am at the window and comes running up to glass on her perch to greet me. Its just bizarre.
We have had this relationship for over 9 months and it blows my mind that I can't get a bit more trust. Not counting that I have been feeding her since she was a few months old.
I have a pretty secluded wooded and fenced back yard section and she normally stays down in the woods during the day. I don't think she is coming into contact with someone else trying to catch her.
If I forget and leave food out overnight, sometimes a possum will come up and she just sits quietly on her perch and watches it eat her leftovers. (That's a whole different problem I am dealing with, lol). thanks!
 

FeebysOwner

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It is truly bizarre! Do you have a screen in the window that you and she 'rendezvous' through? If so, what would happen, if you open the window (after you leave her food, or whenever is a good time) and try to interact with her through the screen?
 
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swagman

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I dont have a screen on that window. But I have cracked it open about one inch so she can hear me better and she wont come up with the window cracked. I do have screens I could put there to try that though.
 

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I know how nervous ferals can get if they feel they are being pursued. Have you tried going outside from another exit while she is eating and laying down somewhere beyond the deck so she encounters you away from the house? Don’t move, just lay there at first. Let her approach you. If she veers away at first, that’s okay. Repetition of laying still outside, belly up, can tell her you are not a threat. In the video where she butts heads with you, you are down at her level and not standing upright. Imagine being a small cat and having a human standing above you. It would be intimidating. I often laid outside on a blanket and kept a dish of lovely treats nearby. As the cat got comfortable enough to eat the treats, each feeding I would move the dish a bit closer to where I was laying. Eventually placing the food on my leg and later near an arm or on my stomach. It takes patience but it works. Moving food slowly closer to a carrier or wire cage and finally inside it can work to catch her too. I think you could start ALL of this by leaving a shirt or clothing item you have worn on the deck outside. Letting her get to know and trust your scent can really help the whole process of gaining contact. Sending that video to a vet is an excellent idea! It might be that they could give you some antibiotics or something to add to her food until you find a way to catch her.
You might also try shutting your inside pets away from the door when you head butt through the glass. I would try putting a treat against the door itself. As she becomes used to getting treats there, you can try leaving the door open just an inch and letting her eat it without trying to make contact. Stay back and let her eat it at first without seeing you there. If she will do that a few times, then try being present when she eats it. Favorite foods are the greatest to you can use in the beginning. I found that each cat had a different favorite. If her breathing is affected, her sense of smell may be a bit off too. Try warming food a bit to enhance the smell. Another favored food here was Gerber 2nd foods all meat baby food.
I don’t know what type of trap you have used but a drop trap may be an option. As said in previous post, be creative. Try imagining yourself as a small creature in a big and dangerous world. How would you react? Keep working on the bond you have developed. She obviously has great affection for you so you have passed the first, and greatest, hurdle. If you can demonstrate to her that physical contact is safe, you will never have to worry about getting her if she needs attention in the future. Any chance she could join the inside cat and dog? Ferals can socialize and she is an excellent candidate for that. You have my heartfelt gratitude for helping this kitty! Bravo for all you have done for her! :clap2::goldstar:
 
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